Today is the kickoff of NaNoWriMo! It's the actual birthday of many novels, some of which will sell to publishers and be on the shelves in another few years. I can almost feel all the creative juices flowing through the universe today, and I'm very excited that my daughter's high school creative writing class is participating!
I personally have never officially participated in NaNoWriMo, but unofficially, I've done it twice. The second time was two years ago when my agent was on submission with Personal Demons to editors. I wrote the sequel, Original Sin. But the first time was three years ago, just after I first started writing. I wrote a novel that is still one of my favorites called Dusty Lane. And then I did what many of you will do. I made the mistake of querying it on December 1st.
I queried a handful of agents and got five manuscript requests. I was in HEAVEN! My novel was the BEST and it was going to sell at auction to a fabulous publisher. But, here's the thing.
When you've written an actual novel, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it holds together and makes sense, there's this HUGE sense of accomplishment. You are (rightly) so proud of what you've done that you want to share it with the world. Like I said, I LOVED Dusty. I still hope that someday I might see it in a shiny cover on a shelf with other books. But, the day after I finished the first draft was really not the time to be sending it out into the world. Your novel is going to need some nurturing, some TLC, to become the novel it's capable of being.
As you might expect, the five agents who requested Dusty ended up passing. But the next novel I wrote did end up selling at auction because I gave it time to grow into the best novel it could be before querying it. So, here's my NaNoWriMo advice. Think of your pudgy pink baby novel at the end of NaNoWriMo as 250 pages of POTENTIAL. Give it the love and nurturing it needs to flourish and mature. When it's all grown up, then and only then, consider sending it out into the world.
Best of luck to all you brave souls participating!